Academy Award® winner Tim Robbins stars as David Owen, a Manhattan husband and father so unhinged by the noise outside his window that he declares a one-man war on car alarms. But when David goes over the edge and becomes a citywide noise-vigilante known as 'The Rectifier', he incurs the wrath of New York’s sleazy blowhard Mayor (a hilarious performance by Oscar® winner William Hurt) who vows to stop him. How much damage will one guy inflict for a little peace and quiet? Bridget Moynahan (I, ROBOT) and William Baldwin (Dirty Sexy Money) co-star in this wickedly funny black comedy from award-winning writer/director Henry Bean (The Believer) that The New Yorker hails as "a splendidly eccentric film alive with the creative madness of New York City!"
I can’t help but agree- our lives are getting noisier and noisier. There’s the sound of the drill, the jackhammer, the garbage truck, the pile driver, and most ubiquitous of all, the car alarm. We are irritated, yes, but have we actually done anything about it? Most of the time, we simply try to ignore it, to shut it out of our conscious mind, to pretend it isn’t there. But we all know that’s not always possible.
Noise presents a most intriguing premise- and also a warped case of social and civil activism. What if one man just had enough? What if one man made it his personal mission to disable all those car alarms that just went off and that people have so conveniently ignored? That man is David Owen (Tim Robbins). Fed up with nonchalance, he’s decided to do something about it.
His personal mission is the backbone of writer/director Henry Bean’s wickedly fascinating satire- for the most part, that is. Indeed, one of my favourite scenes is when David is approached by a policeman after smashing a car window to pop open its hood and disable its alarm. He boldly retorts: "You don’t come when the car’s attacking us, but only when we’re attacking the car!"
But writer/director Bean is wisely not out to make us idolise David Owen for his audacity. Instead, he also examines how the life of this loving family man, father of a cute young daughter with his beautiful wife (Bridget Monayhan), falls apart after he goes on a personal crusade. Because of his actions, both his wife and daughter get more and more agitated as he gets arrested repeatedly before his wife finally asks him to move out.
If the movie seems strangely intimate, that’s because writer/director Bean actually based his character David Owen on his own real life experience. Just like his character, Bean broke into people’s cars to disable their alarms and eventually got arrested and jailed. But it is where, I’m sure, that his work of fiction deviates from his personal reality that the movie goes downhill.
Undoubtedly, it is after David is kicked out of his house that the story takes an unfortunate weak turn. I wouldn’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say that the second half of the movie- that involves a scheming no-good Mayor (played by William Hurt)- is a pale comparison to its sharper, much wittier earlier half.
Still you can always depend on Tim Robbins for a mesmerizing performance and here he manages to pull off his character quite admirably. You see the transformation of a man once powerless, driven to action by his gradually seething rage at the noise around him, and finally to a deeper recognition of the consequences of his callous actions, however well motivated, on his family. Though almost a caricature, William Hurt is nonetheless a hoot as the Mayor who goes against David Owen’s The Rectifier.
No doubt, Noise has a most interesting concept but unfortunately what promise it showed at the start is somewhat squandered by a blah ending. Still, it makes for a compelling watch, if only for its 'what if' premise. Just make sure you don’t get any ideas though, I certainly won’t encourage it in Singapore.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Decent visual transfer though the picture is presented in 4 x 3 letterbox format. Audio’s good enough in Dolby 2.0 especially since most of what you’re going to hear are discordant noises.
by Gabriel Chong